Per Capita US Support for Pakistan’s Displaced Dwarfs Support for Syrian Refugees

John Kerry in a photo op with Pakistan's Army Chief Raheel Sharif. (ISPR photo)

John Kerry in a photo op with Pakistan’s Army Chief Raheel Sharif. (ISPR photo)


John Kerry visited Pakistan yesterday to provide the delayed announcement of $250 million from the US to aid displaced Pakistanis and rebuild infrastructure in the wake of the Zarb-e-Azb offensive against terrorists in Pakistan’s tribal areas. We get some detail from the New York Times for how the aid is to be used:

The $250 million in American assistance is to be used to provide food, shelter, medical support, and to restore basic services in Waziristan and the other Federally Administered Tribal Areas, so that the more than 700,000 people who have fled the fighting can return, American officials said. The aid would be redirected from assistance that had already been appropriated for Pakistan.

Of course, even with this repurposing of funds, the US is using it as enticement for what it really wants from Pakistan:

A senior State Department official said before the meetings here that Mr. Kerry would emphasize that Pakistan’s crackdown against militants should be extended to the Haqqani network, which has organized attacks in Afghanistan against American and local forces; to Afghan Taliban fighters who have sought refuge in Pakistan; and to Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistani group that is widely believed to be responsible for the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai, India.

“Part of the secretary’s core message will be to ensure that actions are met with a real and sustained effort to constrain the ability of the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Afghan Taliban, and other militants who pose a threat to regional stability and to direct U.S. interests,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in accordance with the agency’s procedure for briefing reporters.

To show its gratitude to the US, Pakistan celebrated by hanging seven prisoners during Kerry’s visit.

This level of support from the US for Pakistan’s displaced population puts US support for refugees from Syria’s civil war to shame. While the US pats itself loudly on the back by combining refugee support figures for 2012-2015 to claim a $3 billion commitment, when we look at what has been announced for 2015 (pdf, scroll to page 6), I see only $277 million. Although that is more money for Syrian refugees, there are almost ten times more refugees in the Syrian conflict than in Pakistan. The story above cites 700,000 displaced by current offensive and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre puts the overall figure for Pakistan at around 1.15 million. By comparison, the same group notes 7.6 million internally displaced Syrians and 2.8 million refugees from Syria in surrounding nations. The total is very nearly half of Syria’s 21.9 million total population.

If the US provided the same per capita support to Syrian refugees in 2015 as it has pledged for Pakistan, the $250 million for 1.1 million Pakistani refugees would become approximately $2.4 billion. Given the dire conditions in Syrian refugee camps this winter, such a commitment would be vital, but don’t look for it anytime soon.

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9 replies
  1. bloopie2 says:

    I wonder how often John Kerry thinks about the fact that he is basically a john with money to burn and that today’s ‘Middle Eastern state of the day’ is the whore who needs a fix. Ah, yes, ‘diplomacy’ – a noble calling, Sir. (Of course, he is, at the same time, stiffing his family back home on their food, clothing and shelter.)

  2. Don Bacon says:

    Never before has the U.S. so openly and knowingly financed a country (Pakistan) which, via its Haqqani agents, and others, is at war with the U.S. and killing U.S. troops. It has been surreal.
    .
    It was in September 2009 that General McChrystal in his assessment to Obama made it clear that Pakistan, fearing India presence in Afghanistan, was supporting anti-US forces in Afghanistan. Obama in response made it clear that Pakistan was, and is, a U.S. ally.
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    Jul 17, 2014
    General DUNFORD. Well, Senator, I would view al Qaeda as enemy number one. Haqqani is certainly the most virulent strain of the insurgency in Afghanistan and presents the greatest risk to the force because of their emphasis on high-profile attacks. The other thing that’s significant about the Haqqani Network is they actually provide the network that allows al Qaeda in the region to have sanctuary and continue to resource itself.
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    CBS, this month, interviewing the current US commander:
    –Lara Logan: Let’s look at what hasn’t changed in 13 years. The Pentagon, in their most recent report, said that Pakistan is continuing to provide sanctuary to America’s most lethal enemies in Afghanistan, the Haqqani Network, which they describe as the most potent strain of the insurgency, the greatest risk to U.S. and coalition forces.
    –Gen. John Campbell: Yeah, I agree with you. Haqqani you brought up. They’ve been the greatest threat to the coalition. I’ve lost many soldiers because of Haqqani members. Am I frustrated because they come in Afghanistan, they go into Pakistan. Of course I am.

  3. bsbafflesbrains says:

    Narcissists get a dopamine rush similar to cocaine or sex addicts and Kerry et al fit the definition of malignant narcissists who think in perverse logic and inverse conscience. We need an intervention. Kerry and Obama believe their own BS and can’t be criticized, especially by the unwashed masses.

  4. Adam Colligan says:

    1More ignorance and hypocrisy on US foreign aid…
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    1. You had argued that the appropriate level of US aid in a conflict should be scaled against the amount of US responsibility and investment in fueling the conflict itself. Now, you imply it’s abhorrent that you see the US allocating more per head in a conflict where it is a much deeper, more direct, and more influential participant in the violence. Pick one.
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    2. The in-country redirection of funds is evidence for the exact opposite of the corrupt mechanism you imply is behind it. Say the US didn’t really care about refugess and just wanted to bribe officials in Islamabad to do America’s dirty work. It wouldn’t then move funds *away* from general development projects managed through established political networks and spent among power brokers’ bases of support and *toward* field work in the northwest, would it?
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    3. The Pakistan aid is not just about sustaining temporarily displaced refugees but about “return and rehabilitation”. It includes things like “transportation”, “livelihood”, and “livestock support” among others. It’s a bit ridiculous to complain that the US isn’t allocating funds for, say, permanent school and utility line construction in Syria, but is in Pakistan. It’s impossible in Syria.
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    (Warning for “TL;DR” whiners: simple budget math explained below!)
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    4. It is more expensive to deliver aid in Pakistan than in Syria’s neighborhood.
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    The logistical and market situation in northwestern Pakistan is completely different than it is in the Syria refugee regions. It’s not just that it’s more geographically inaccessible. It’s also that there are far fewer Pakistani aid recipients with access to robust local markets and aid support infrastructure, especially for food. Compare this WFP budget for Pakistan to this one for Syria. The Syria operation’s direct food spend is 94% cash and vouchers (which are preferable) and 6 percent on actual food. That total direct food spend is 88% of the operational budget, with 12% being support/logistics costs. In Pakistan, the cash portion of the direct food spend is only 16% of the food value. The other 84% of the food has to be physically shipped in, warehoused, secured, etc. by the program. The result is that the direct food spend (both cash and physical food) is only 62% of the total operational budget. A full 38% is support/logistical overhead.
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    5. You’re still budget illiterate when it comes to aid money.
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    US commitments to the Syria refugee crisis are made on a rolling basis during the year. It’s completely ridiculous to stack the total $250m redirection commitment for NW Pakistan against “what you have seen announced for 2015”. I guess I’m happy that you bothered to go to the USAID website this time to find that document. But it’s a shame you didn’t understand how to read it. The $277m in that document is what has been obligated to specific programs as of the publication of the bulletin, about 10 weeks into FY2015. Compare it to the first Syria bulletin from FY2014 that had FY2014 obligations in it — that one was from , about 15 weeks into that fiscal year. At that point the bulletin showed $105m in Food for Peace assistance, $203m under OFDA, and $99m direct from State. The eventual totals for FY2014, as shown in the bulletin you saw, were $541m, $298m, and $725m, respectively.
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    So 29% of the way into FY2014, the US had obligated just 26% of its eventual total assistance and just 19% of its eventual total food assistance. Now, as of 10 weeks into FY2015, the US was on pace to obligate $692m just in food. And none of the OFDA spending areas or significant State spending areas are even *listed* in the bulletins yet. Last FY, food was only 35% of the total aid. If those ratios were to repeat, you’d be looking at a total FY2015 spend of over $2 billion. And that’s not even counting the extra leverage that each dollar has for Syrian refugees as compared to Pakistani ones. But obviously not everything happens the same week every year in complex ongoing crisis management.
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    So maybe you need to clarify something about the pace or structure of aid because the documents are confusing you or can’t provide the necessary context? You could also try being a grown-up and just picking up the phone to query USAID before you spew yet more ignorance in public about foreign aid. I’ve even done the initial legwork for you by calling and asking who the person to talk to about Syria budgeting would be. Her name is Carrie Johnson, and her number is 202-712-5299 . It wasn’t hard.

  5. bmaz says:

    Well hi there Adam. Thanks for dropping by and engaging in a professional and pleasant discussion. Or, exactly the opposite. You seem to be of the impression that this forum is your own little playground to act high, mighty and belligerent. It is not. Not in the least. So, if you cannot engage the authors, much less our commenters, in a pleasant and professional manner, then take your overly immense talents somewhere else. And do so immediately.

    • Adam Colligan says:

      If you want me to leave the site, that’s your prerogative. Let me know. But…seriously?
      .
      Up front, I’m surprised at the idea that my tone — or any commenter’s — is a bigger issue for the site than an author writing demonstrably untrue statements about the world’s most vulnerable people and refusing to re-evaluate them.
      .
      But what really confuses me is the idea that in exchanges between Jim and me, I’m somehow creating the unprofessional tenor. For one thing, Jim sets out his own example of how he thinks stories with misleading headlines and bad facts should be written about. In the 18 days since that post, was there some New Year’s resolution enacted to declare this kind of snark inappropriate and banish it?
      .
      Look, I get the criticism that I feel too much of a need to include supporting evidence for what I say. And I do think the onus is on somebody calling out work as bad to explain why in detail. I don’t want to miss aan opportunity to be really informative or useful. In a tradeoff between taking time to support assertions well and taking time to edit paragraphs down, I lean hard in the first direction. I think it’s uncomfortable when somebody has to say later that an important claim just wasn’t meant to be taken that seriously. But still, I get it. It’s hard to balance that right. I understand being told I go on too long and end up having too much formal-sounding structure in a comment. It comes off as stuffy, especially to strangers.
      .
      But is that really more unprofessional than what I’ve gotten from other commenters: “pompous blowhard“; “who the hell do you think you are“; I find it “an impossible task” to be inspired toward thinking and debate; “arrogant, pompous little twit ; and so on?
      .
      Jim himself consistently responded to my criticism or disapproval of his work — which hasn’t even been that frequent — with personal ridicule and taunting. This is pretty typical. I did remember this one time where he responded to a factual criticism I made and he didn’t try to mock me as a human being in some way. It stood out. As harsh as I have gotten with some of his work — and I think some of it deserves a lot of harshness — I have always focused on the work itself and the need for it to be better, not on ad hom insinuations about him. I make an effort to be very clear that the focus is the content and not the author. He tells me to “crawl back under the rock that incubates your mindset“.
      .
      Today’s one tweet was probably the most snark I’ve ever brought and the closest thing to being personal. But in the end I still called out the problem as what he said, not who he is. And I only said as much as I did because he’s sold complete untruths about aid before without compunction. Even if you think i’m full of shit, though: honestly, which side of this exchange is the really unprofessional and unpleasant side?
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      Me? @AdamColligan: “@emptywheel Can someone stage intervention for @JimWhiteGNV before next time he says horribly dumb things about aid?”
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      or
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      Not Me? @JimWhiteGNV: “@AdamColligan Fuck off. And I mean that in the most painful, personal mode of complete embarrassment for your total idiocy exposed to all.”

  6. bmaz says:

    So, you habitually troll and are an ostentatious belligerent jerk to front page authors, not to mention our valued commenters; and, then, have the sack to think it is defensible and equivalent when they call you out for being an ostentatious belligerent jerk?
    .
    I am sorry, it does not work that way. You have some knowledge and perspective to lend, so I hope you change your attitude and stick around. But I will lose exactly zero sleep over it if not. How we proceed is up to you.

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